Conflict management is an umbrella term for the way we identify and handle conflicts fairly and efficiently. The goal is to minimize the potential negative impacts that can arise from disagreements and increase the odds of a positive outcome.
Since conflicts in a business are a natural part of the workplace, it is important that there are people who understand conflicts and know how to resolve them.
In recent research from Pollack Pacebuilding blog, Research shows the impacts of conflicts on Productivity at the workplace – July 2022 – the background and theory of this article highlights how employee’s productivity is one of the most important factors within organizations, but how it is also the most pressuring variable of conflict for teams to overcome. As we all come from different upbringings, backgrounds, cultures, work styles, and communication styles, conflicts occur at different levels within every organization. Allowing people undergoing the conflict to mitigate the problem themselves may not be the best solution, while completely avoiding the issue will also cause harm. This article aims to find a variety of solutions for better productivity and retention within organizations.
Identifying Different Types of Conflicts
The study focuses on vertical and horizontal levels of conflicts. The vertical level of conflict directly relates to different hierarchy levels within the organization. Whereas the horizontal level of conflict occurs between individuals at the same level. Conflicts are categorized as interpersonal or intra-personal. Interpersonal conflicts are between two individuals, while conflicts between one or two groups are considered intra-personal. Through the studies it has been shown that emotional intelligence plays a huge factor in having the ability to resolve conflicts. If we communicate openly and understand where each individual is coming from, we are able to get to the root of conflicts and prevent them from occurring. Moreover, understanding the level of conflict aids the people operations team in navigating the conflict.
Reasons Behind Conflict
The article elucidates different reasons as to why conflicts arise. The main reasons highlighted in the study is a diversification in values, customs, attitudes, and personalities clashing based on not feeling aligned or trusting of the people they work with on a day-to-day basis. Another key variable to highlight is most upper-level managers are focused on maximizing profits and limiting the number of resources available to their employees for their own self development. This creates a tremendous amount of stress and pressure for employees and the environment they work in. When these tensions rise, there is a lack of productivity, innovation, and high turnover rates.
Conflicts within workplaces are inevitable, but it is the leaders within the organization that are responsible for providing educational measures to put into place for employees to continue to thrive. If the organization is prepared to handle all levels of conflicts and have proper training incorporated, these severe consequences can be avoided. In outsourcing conflict resolution professionals to mitigate conflict, there is more of a chance of cohesion between groups and teams within the organization.
For consultants: In constantly educating ourselves, employees, and clients around emotional intelligence, we are able to deepen relationships across the organization.
For everyone: We should constantly be evolving and growing into better versions of ourselves to maximize productivity and prevent conflicts within the workplace.
Following are the common ways for managing conflict Styles;
This conflict management style produces the best long-term results, but it is frequently the most difficult and time-consuming to achieve. The needs and desires of each party are considered, and a win-win solution is found so that everyone is satisfied.
This frequently entails all parties sitting down together, discussing the conflict, and negotiating a solution together. The collaborating conflict management style is used when it is critical to maintain all parties’ relationships or when the solution itself will have a significant impact.
The competing conflict management style rejects compromise and does not give in to the opinions or desires of others. One party is adamant about how they believe a situation should be handled and will not back down until they get their way.
This can be in situations where morals require a specific course of action, when there isn’t time to try a different solution, or when an unpopular decision must be made. It can quickly resolve disputes, but it has a high risk of lowering morale and productivity.
A conflict manager that has great conflict management skills seeks to reduce conflict by ignoring it, removing the conflicting parties, or evading it in some way. Team members who are in disagreement can be removed from the project, deadlines pushed, or people reassigned to other departments.
If a cool-down period would be beneficial or if you need more time to consider your stance on the conflict itself, this can be an effective conflict management style. However, avoidance should not be used in place of proper conflict resolution; putting off conflict indefinitely can and will lead to more (and larger) conflicts down the road.
The accommodating conflict management style is all about putting the needs of the other party ahead of one’s own. You let them ‘win’ and have their way. Accommodation is used when you don’t care as much about the issue as the other person, if prolonging the conflict isn’t worth your time, or if you believe you’re wrong.
This option is about keeping the peace, not putting in more effort than is necessary, and knowing when to pick your battles. While it may appear to be a weak option, accommodation can be the best way to resolve a minor conflict and move on to more important issues. This style is highly cooperative on the resolver’s part, but it can lead to resentment.
This conflict management style seeks a middle ground by asking both parties to give up some aspects of their desires in order to reach an agreement. This style is sometimes referred to as “lose-lose,” because both parties will have to give up a few things in order to reach an agreement on the larger issue.
When there is a time constraint or when a solution simply needs to happen rather than be perfect, this is used. Compromise can breed resentment, especially when used excessively as a conflict resolution tactic, so use it sparingly.
Ways to Resolve Conflicts
Talk directly. Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem.
Choose a good time.
Don’t blame or name-call.
Show that you are listening.
Talk it all through
How to stop conflict before it starts
Know your conflict style. When you have a disagreement with someone, what do you do?
Form connections with others. Strengthening your relationships with others can help with preventing conflict.
Reach out for help.